Some 200 members of Tel Aviv University's Arab Students' Union, as well as several Jewish students, held a rally Thursday in protest of the university's decision to celebrate "Student Day" on the day Palestinians mark Nakba - the "catastrophe of Israel's inception in 1948.
The Kaffiyah-clad demonstrators waved black flags and carried signs reading "Student Day for Jews only" and "The Students' Union want us to celebrate on Nakba Day" in Hebrew and Arabic.
Confrontation between Jewish, Arab students (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Three students were arrested after violent confrontations erupted when Jewish students attempted to prevent the protestors from waving Palestinian flags.
Arab student Srur Aboud said, "Six months ago we were informed that Student Day was set for May 15, which is Nakba Day. We sent letters saying this was unacceptable because Students' Day is a celebration and Nakba is a day of mourning."
Jewish student Noa Levy said she identifies with the Palestinian students' grievance. "To schedule Student Day on this day of mourning is to spit in the Palestinian students' faces," she said. "Nakba Day marks the destruction of 530 Palestinian communities in 1948 -when 80% of the Palestinian population became refugees."
Tel Aviv University Student Union head Gil Goldenberg said in response that the date for Student Day 2008 was announced last August, but in the meetings that followed the Arab students never warned us that this was a sensitive day for them."